RCMP uncover over 1 million contraband cigarettes in Manitoba busts
Manitoba government helps Mounties catch 4 men now charged with trafficking illegal cigarettes, alcohol
A joint effort by RCMP and a Manitoba government investigative unit last month kept hundreds of thousands of dollars from being illegally sucked out of the public coffers during two cigarette trafficking busts.
The first came on Oct. 2 when RCMP stopped a westbound vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Richer, about 60 kilometres east of Winnipeg.
Officers discovered 488,800 illegal cigarettes in the vehicle and 149 1.75-litre bottles of non-duty paid alcohol, the province wrote in a news release Thursday.
They arrested a 37-year-old man from Thunder Bay, Ont., who has been charged with trafficking contraband booze and cigarettes, as well offences under the Tax Administration and Manitoba Tobacco Tax acts.
On Oct. 27, members of the provincial Finance Taxation Special Investigations Unit arrested three men moving boxes of contraband cigarettes into a vehicle from a business.
The investigators seized the cigarettes because they were not marked for Manitoba tax purposes. In total, 687,800 cigarettes were seized along with $3,000 in cash.
They face charges under the Tax Administration and Manitoba Tobacco Tax acts for possession of non-Manitoba tobacco products, and for evading paying provincial tobacco taxes.
"Manitoba stood to lose $347,097 in tax revenue if these cigarettes had been sold," according to a statement from the province.
If convicted the four men could face up to six months behind bars or fines between $1,000 and $10,000. They could also get hit with a "triple tax penalty" of more than $432,000 for the Oct. 2 incident, and nearly $608,800 for the Oct. 27 bust.
The Manitoba government encourages anyone with information about the trafficking of contraband tobacco to contact local police departments, or file a report with either the Manitoba Finance Special Investigation Unit at 204-945-1137 (or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org). Information can also be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.
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